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Enterprise M3 wins bid to be driving force to keep £25 billion local economy booming

A major boost for the local economy - that’s how Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has hailed the news that Enterprise M3 has won its bid to become a local enterprise partnership.

The approval of the Enterprise M3 bid was announced in the Houses of Parliament today (Thursday 10 February) by Minister for Business Mark Prisk.  The new style economic partnerships bring together local business and civic leaders, working to support their local economy. They operate in geographical areas that reflect natural economic areas to provide the vision, knowledge and strategic leadership needed to drive sustainable private sector growth and job creation in their area.

Covering the north Hampshire and north west Surrey area, the Enterprise M3 local economic partnership bid, co-ordinated by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, brought together major companies, other businesses and business representatives with the local councils, universities, colleges and other public services making decisions that affect the area’s economy.

The bid covered the areas of Basingstoke and Deane, East Hants, Hart, New Forest, Rushmoor Test Valley and  Winchester in Hampshire and Guildford, Surrey Heath, Waverley and Woking in Surrey.  Key organisations including the Hampshire Economic Partnership, the Federation of Small Business, Farnborough Aerospace Consortium and the chambers of commerce all worked hard in support of the local enterprise partnership (LEP).  Geoff French of the global design and engineering company URS Scott Wilson based in Basingstoke, drove the support from the local business community.  The bid received 216 pledges of support from businesses including Nokia UK Ltd, Leki Aviation, AXA Wealth, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and Motorola Ltd. The University of Surrey, Winchester University, Queen Mary’s College, Basingstoke College of Technology and Farnborough College added the crucial link with education.  Hampshire County Council and the district and borough councils across the area all backed the bid.

The new local enterprise partnership will now be asked to appoint a board and start its work.  A business conference is planned for April to identify key priorities to meet the needs of businesses, from large multi-national companies to sole traders and start-ups, in an environmentally sustainable way.  Priorities are likely to include transport, skills, broadband and investment.

Enterprise M3 covers an area responsible for producing £25 billion worth of goods and services annually, with 57,000 registered businesses, 537,000 jobs and a population of over a million people.  The success of the bid was based on the level of business buy-in and a history of partnerships across traditional boundaries to make a real difference to the people who live and work in the area.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s chief executive Tony Curtis, who led the bid team, said: “Enterprise M3 forms a really strong local economic partnership and I’m sure the level of business support was one of the reasons for its success.  It breaks down traditional local government boundaries and works in an area that makes much more sense for local businesses.  Based around the vital transport artery in the south east, with major employment areas, the partnership will build on the existing strengths of the economic powerhouse area to overcome challenges and provide a strong environment for business.”

On behalf of the borough council Leader Cllr Andrew Finney said: “Economic growth has never been more important and the LEP provides a real opportunity to involve and engage business with the public sector. Partnership working and the blurring of historic boundaries will strengthen the voice of our economic area and maximise the value of available funding for economic development. It also raises the profile of Basingstoke and Deane on the national and international stage."

Geoff French of URS Scott Wilson said:  “This is tremendous news especially as only 30 LEPs have been established so far throughout England - this most certainly emphasises the economic importance of our area.  The success of the bid was a result of the public and private sectors working constructively together and I look forward to this partnership continuing within our new LEP."